Police force plans to set up community bases in GOLF CLUBS 

Police force plans to set up community bases in scout huts, care homes and GOLF CLUBS

  • Cheshire Police have decided to set up 122 new community bases in the area 
  • The constabulary has previously come under fire for ‘web chat’ policing ideas
  • The bases will be open for at least an hour a week and manned by officers

A police force is planning to set up community bases in scout huts, care homes and even golf clubs.

Cheshire Constabulary has previously come under fire for replacing some traditional police station counters with computer touch screens so people can ‘web chat’ with staff.

Now the force has decided to ‘re-establish community policing’ with 122 new bases.

Although most of the new sites will be no bigger than a single room, a report by Acting Chief Constable Janette McCormick stresses they will have a ‘facility for confidential discussions with victims, witnesses or other members of the public’.

The bases will be open part-time, for at least an hour a week, and police community support officers (PCSOs) will use them to hold regular surgeries.

Members of the public will be able to drop in and discuss any concerns.

Cheshire Police (pictured) said they would be setting up community bases in several unusual locations

The force hopes to come to arrangements with its prospective hosts so it can avoid paying rent and keep set-up costs to a minimum.

Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: ‘Every Cheshire community will soon have its own police base, providing an accessible contact point for local residents to meet their local PCSO.

‘These bases will provide the facilities for PCSOs to spend more time in the heart of the community they serve, increasing interaction with local residents and allowing them to have more visibility in our communities.’

Mr Keane said the new bases will avoid PCSOs ‘travelling miles each day’ from main police stations to the communities they are based in and ‘wasting valuable time’.

The force said it plans to have the new stations up and running by the end of the year.

Among the hosts will be the Catalyst Museum in Widnes, Warrington Town Football Club, several scout groups and Marton Meadows Golf Club in Congleton.

PCSOs will begin and end their daily shifts in the new bases, which will be created in each local council ward of the county.

Mr Keane said the plan would ‘build relationships with local residents and our communities, and build that visibility where people know the name of their local officer’.

In the last year, Cheshire Police has closed Frodsham police station entirely and removed the public counter at Mickle Trafford, replacing both with electronic screens.

The screens have also been set up at other police stations where counters are still open, for use out of hours or when people do not wish to queue.

But residents have complained they are so complicated that even tech-savvy teenagers would struggle to use them.

In Knutsford, toy shop owner Stuart Andrew said: ‘From an older person’s point of view – particularly if they are in some sort of panic – are they going to be able to use this?’

One of the locations suggested for the new community bases were local golf courses in Cheshire

Frodsham’s screen was installed at a fire station but has not always been working and residents have called for the return of a traditional police station.

Local resident Ieva Rozentala, 33, said: ‘If I had to use it, I wouldn’t know where to start, especially if I was already stressed. Having a police station makes people feel safe – this box doesn’t.’

Retired council worker Alan Buckley, 70, said: ‘If an elderly person was mugged, what would they do? Would they be able to use it?’

Cheshire Constabulary has made £52.4 million of cuts since 2010 and raised the policing precept, which is paid alongside council tax.

Mr Keane increased the police precept this year by £1 a month to make up for a further £5m shortfall in the budget for the coming year.

Despite the shortage of funding, he faced ‘nepotism’ allegations last year after creating a new £50,000 Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner post and appointing Sareda Dirir.

Miss Dirir’s parents – former civil servant Linda and her Somali-born husband Allin – represent the same ward on Warrington Council as Mr Keane, who has been a councillor for 19 years.

A watchdog committee overseeing Mr Keane’s office said Miss Dirir, a former actress, teacher and jazz singer, who had also been a Labour councillor in Salford, ‘failed to demonstrate an adequate knowledge and understanding’ of the role.

Her post was not renewed in April and she has since left the role.

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